Homemade Marinara Sauce

My husband loves pasta.  As a student and then a bachelor, he used a lot of bottled sauces from the grocery store.  In fact, he still buys them, because he “likes to have them on hand just in case”.  Just like 200 rolls of toilet paper and an extra 4 L jug of milk (some scars from childhood, I suspect…).  Well, once you start reading the labels on many of the jarred sauces, they really should be a “just in case” sort of thing, and not a regular menu item (lots of salt!!!).

So, when the kids were little, I started trying out recipes to make my own marinara.  It turned out it wasn’t too hard, just chop some onions, some garlic, add some tomatoes and fresh basil and you are all set.  I have made it with fresh tomatoes, frozen tomatoes and canned tomatoes (here is a link to make your own!).  Frozen are great when you have them on hand; fresh are a lot of work (with frozen ones, you are splitting up the work), and canned taste just fine too.  I make a large quantity of the sauce and then freeze it in canning jars.

Marinara Sauce for meatballs, pizza sauce, or for with seafood

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 medium yellow onions, finely diced (don’t use the food processor, the onions will end up bitter)

8-10 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (I use a razor-grater similar to this one)

2 whole roasted red peppers (you can use jarred ones, I roast mine in the oven, and then peel off the skin and then freeze them), chopped

6-28 ounce cans whole tomatoes in their juice (no salt added) or 4-5 litres of frozen tomatoes, thawed

10-12 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

2-3 tsp salt flakes

1 tsp ground black pepper

1.Over mesh colander, strain cans of tomatoes, and break up tomatoes, removing any hard cores or bits of skin. Put sorted tomatoes back into juice.  Set aside

2. Heat olive oil over medium heat, cook onions (stirring only occasionally) until soft (5-7 minutes).  Less stirring will help the onions grow sweet with cooking.  Add garlic and continue cooking for 2 minutes, or until fragrant (don’t let garlic burn).

3. Add chopped roasted red peppers, and cook 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes and juice, salt flakes and pepper.  Bring to a low boil, turn heat down and simmer 45 minutes.

4.  Using an  immersion blender (or in batches in your regular blender), carefully puree sauce, making sure to break up any large pieces.  Add basil leaves.  Continue cooking 10-12 minutes.

5. Ready to serve!  Or store in airtight containers (I use glass canning jars, leaving adequate head room at the top for expansion), in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Makes about 5 litres of sauce.  I put mine in 250ml, 500ml and 1 litre jars so I always have access to the right amount of sauce for different types of meals (or numbers of people!).

A collection of hard work, including 4.5 litres of marinara sauce

A collection of hard work, including 4.5 litres of marinara sauce



Clean Lunch menu for January Week #1

Here it is!  The first lunch menu for 2013!  The kids go back to school on Monday, and it is time to get “back at it.”

My apologies that the links in this post aren’t working (still looking into that!), but if you enter blueberry muffins into the search button, you will find where the link should have taken you!  Hoping it is all fixed up soon!



Monday: Spicy Chicken wraps; Ginger spice cookies , carrot sticks and vanilla yogurt with frozen berries.

Tuesday:Healthy seasoned chicken strips with honey mustard dip and coleslaw; blueberry muffins , an orange and a pear (or a kiwi for those in our house who do not enjoy a yummy pear!)

Wednesday: Homemade tomato soup with cheesy quinoa bites; veggie sticks, vanilla yogurt with frozen fruit.

Thursday: Pea soup with Ham and Wasa multigrain crackers; ginger cookies, apple and a pear (or kiwi!)

Friday: Pizza muffins and vegetable soup ; fruit salad and a Clif Bar granola bar.

My daughter and I will be making those seasoned Chicken strips from The Slow Roasted Italian later today!  New blog post to follow!

Daycare Lunches:

Monday: Hamburger soup

Tuesday:Healthy seasoned chicken strips with honey mustard dip and coleslaw

Wednesday:Homemade tomato soup with cheesy quinoa bites

Thursday: Pea soup with Ham and Wasa multigrain crackers

Friday:Pizza muffins and vegetable soup.

Happy Packing!

what did we eat?

When I was in elementary school, we ate lunch in a large cafeteria (okay, well, it seemed large back then!).  I remember when the school bought new tables, and we had the ones that had benches attached to the table (before that, it was all wooden tables and chairs)…I guess those would be old now!
There was a kitchen too, but no real hot lunch to speak of.  Well, there were hot dog days and pizza days…Oh what pizza we had!  It was just flatbread and tomato sauce (and I saw it at the grocery store last time I was in Quebec, not sure you can get it outside Quebec tho’), and we thought that it was soooo good!  And I do recall that there was the odd time when you could get soup, and there were always drinks you could buy…chocolate or white milk and then fruit drinks in cartons too: grape or orange (colour)…
So, I guess when it came to packing lunches, our parents were really “on their own”…my lunch usually consisted of a sandwich (pb and j or bologna and mustard with cheese), an apple or an orange and cookies or a granola bar.  We always had Nature Valley Granola bars, that came in the two pack.  And we would get money to buy a drink, or on hot dog days or pizza days we could have that.  Really quite boring…one of my best friends hated sandwiches, except for pb and j, and her dad almost never packed her that.  He packed amazing sandwiches!  Egg salad or tuna or ham and cheese with lettuce and tomato.  Or cream cheese with grape jelly!  Yum!  It was my good fortune that when my lunch was pb and j, she would happily trade with me.  So, I started making pb and j all the time just so she would trade with me.  Unless there was meatloaf…My dad made amazing meatloaf (he still does!) and a meatloaf sandwich with some chili sauce and lettuce was my all time favourite lunch!  Just recently, I made meatloaf for supper…I’m not afraid to say that I was disappointed there were no leftovers to make just one meatloaf sandwich.

So maybe ask your family what they like and then keep a little list on the fridge to use as inspiration…Tonight, Duncan asked me if I was making muffins for breakfast (must have seen me bring the blueberries up from the big freezer).  When I asked him why, he said he really likes it when he gets muffins with butter in his lunch instead of a sandwich.  I said, “better than ham and cheese?” and he said, “Well, it makes for a nice change”…
Guess I am getting up a little early tomorrow to make muffins!